Josiah’s reading of the book “found” in the temple stirred excitement, in such a way that they tore down idols and smashed pagan altars, longing to worship the One True God. With idols annihilated, Israel could now transition to true worship. Celebrating the Lord centered the preparation of festivities for the Passover Celebration. They heard it read that observing the Passover, by offering the sacrifice, eating the assigned meal, and rejoicing before the Lord carried out the instructions that constituted a Great Passover Celebration. This generation yearned to experience a celebration like the one spoken of in the book of the law. The task of preparing to worship the One True God sparked new life among the Israelites. Each household sought out a perfect lamb without blemish, since the blood of a perfect lamb atoned sin. Sounds of animals bellowed, while the people gathered their offerings to present to the priests. The person offering the sacrifice exempted examination, for the priests examined the animals only, for blemishes. Though the sacrifices, alive when chosen, ended up dead, burnt, and consumed, the sacrificial law forbade worshipers from finding dead animals and then offering them as a sacrifice. If the worshiper offered a sacrifice with no repentance and no humility, the sacrifice would become meaningless. Therefore, repentance must accompany an offering.
Jesus, examined as the spotless Lamb of God, offered Himself as the “once for all” sacrifice to the Lord. “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices, daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” ~ Hebrews 7:27 ESV. “The time of the evening sacrifice occurred midway between noon and sunset, or from half past two to half past three o’clock. This was about the time of its offering in the days of Christ” (Manners and Customs of the Bible; James M. Freeman, # 311). “At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice” (Matthew 27:45-46). The time of day when Jesus died, 3:00, occurred just in time for the evening sacrifice. God viewed the blood of the sacrifice for atonement – Jesus our “once for all sacrifice.” He abolished the need to sacrifice goats and animals.
The physical enactment under the Old Covenant set the model for a spiritual application for the New Covenant believer. “Sacrifice and offering ~ physical elements the worshiper brings to the Deity to express devotion, thanksgiving, or the need for forgiveness” (Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, p1428). Therefore, the sacrifices, which we may offer, do not pertain to preparing an animal sacrifice for our sin, since Jesus Christ completed the sacrifice. We may offer sacrifices pertaining to giving of self, while accepting Christ completed work for us. “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ ~ 1 Peter 2:5 ESV.”
With only a few days leading up to the commemoration of the Resurrected Lord, how might we prepare sacrifices for our Great Celebration? The first spiritual sacrifice reveals the most important of all offerings. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship ~ Romans 12:1 ESV.” Without offering our bodies to the Lord, for the purpose of His glory, the remaining offerings seem vague. My we then, say, “Lord, we offer the sacrifice of our bodies, in order that we may worship. Lord, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to use for your glory. Lord, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to build your kingdom.” It deems unnecessary to move forward and prepare for our great celebration, unless these words derive from the heart. If we cannot offer ourselves, we will not truly offer the remaining sacrifices. The reason for existence of humans holds true for all ~ to worship the Lord. See Revelation 4:11.
All that belongs to me, actually now, belongs to the Lord for His purposes. “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God ~ Hebrews 13:16 ESV.” Lord, we offer to you the sacrifice of doing good and sharing. Lead us to the people to whom we may offer the sacrifice “to do good and share.”
Another sacrifice ~ “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all ~ Philippians 2:17 ESV.” Lord, we offer to you the sacrifice of our faith. May our life of living by faith illuminate, to those around us, the Lord who loves us and in whom we place our trust.
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name ~ Hebrews 13:15 ESV.” Lord, we offer to you the sacrifice of praise, our “acclamation and honor,” even in the midst of our circumstances that may seem trite to some, yet burdensome to others. This sacrifice seemed the most difficult for me, the sacrifice of praise to God. Tempering my thoughts and the words of my lips, to thank the Lord and praise Him, during difficult seasons of my life, or reflecting where emotional hurt and pain seemed paralyzing rendered ineffective results, at first. Yet, I found that offering the sacrifice of praise to God, for the hurtful seasons, people, or situations reduced the paralysis from my life and induced stability, soundness, and power into my life. Offering my sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving freed me. In Christ, I offered forgiveness. He became my strength to accomplish this sacrifice of praise. I felt like a new person.
“I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, …the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God ~ Philippians 4:18 ESV.” Lord, we offer to you a sacrifice of money and possessions. Reveal to us areas where we may offer money and possessions to those in need. These sacrifices never go astray.
Depend on Him. He provides the resources, the means, and the strength, as we give a portion of ourselves to others, as unto the Lord. Remember to live in an attitude of prayer, with each spiritual sacrifice. The spiritual sacrifices, for the believer becomes a way of life, not just a one time sacrifice. These sacrifices remind us, “we were bought with a price.” These sacrifices remind us that the Lord created us to worship Him alone. These sacrifices create a sense of belonging and purpose in life. These sacrifices generate life in us and through us.
Comment about the sacrifice you choose to offer to the Lord in your preparation of your Great Celebration.
Join us next time, for the final blog in this series of The Great Celebration, to “strike up the band” and commence the celebration of our risen Lord.
© Carolyn Marlowe/Alive by His Word ~ 2012